Maybe I’m spoiled…but I just can’t get on board with this whole cruise thing (no pun…okay a little bit of a pun). Maybe I just don’t know how to cruise correctly. I don’t know. This has nothing to do with the actual cruise product because Crystal Cruises is the creme de la creme in the industry. This is sailing in true luxury. The food is superb, my stateroom is beautiful, all balconies face the ocean, the gym is 24 hours. It’s just done right. My issue lies with the amount of time that cruise ships spend in port.

When I was growing up we would take vacations that got us in in with the locals. It was boutique hotels or rental houses with kitchens so we could shop at the local markets and eat what the people ate. I’ve road tripped, backpacked and trained across most of Europe. I’ve taken a nine-hour public bus from Mexico City to Zihuatanejo. I’ve hiked and camped in the Andes. So when it comes to cruising, eight hours in a port of call does not cut it for me.

Yesterday I had all of four hours to see Istanbul. Istanbul! This city has been on my list for years! (To be fair, most international destinations are on my list…but whatever.) And how did I see it? Following a tour guide holding up a big goofy sign. And what did I see? Sure, I saw the Blue Mosque (which, by the way, is only known to locals as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque), and the Hagia Sofia (it’s typically closed Mondays but Crystal Cruises paid for a private entrance – that’s pretty cool). But…that was all I saw. No spice market, no grand bazaar, no kebabs, no secret underground late-night belly dancing clubs (I was most bummed about this part). I just want more!

So here’s what I walked way from Istanbul with:

The Sultan Ahmet Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616. Istanbul is home to thousands of mosques, but the Blue Mosque is the most unique because of its six minaret towers. It is affectionately known to tourists as the Blue Mosque because it is decorated with thousands of blue tiles. Turkey is predominantly a Muslim country, and all its people are called to prayer five times daily. During prayer time the Mosque closes, but when it is open it welcomes thousands. You are required to remove your shoes and all shoulders and legs must be covered.

Hagia Sofia is an ancient church that was built in the 6th century. It was later converted into a Mosque and today serves solely as a museum. Its dome rises almost 200 feet above the ground and is entirely covered in Byzantine mosaics.

Turkey is a country of two continents. Only 3 percent of the country is in Europe, and the rest sits in Asia. The two sides of the country are split up by the Bosphorus, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. The Bosphorus runs directly through Istanbul, so when staying in the city it is possible to party in Europe one night and in Asia the next…not that I would know, seeing as I missed out on all the wilding.

Today we are en route to Mykonos, Greece…where I’m sure I’ll have just enough time to run off the boat, eat something Greek and wave good bye.

Note: Due to the fact that tomorrow is the 4th of July, and I doubt that any of you will be reading this on your day off, we’ll postpone Name that Skyline! until next Wednesday. Happy Independence Day! Go do something stupid that Washington and Jefferson would frown upon.